Sorting Out Super Bowl LIII
Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Two teams that were playing for a trophy that only one can win. Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia last Sunday saw the New England Patriots looking to win the Lombardi Trophy for the 6th time vs a Los Angeles Rams team that is trying to hoist it for just the 2nd time in their history. The Rams have the better overall team, but the Patriots had a lot more playoff and championship experience and that's what won out in Super Bowl 53 as the world witnessed the lowest scoring game (13-3) in Super Bowl history. The previous low was when the "Perfect Season" 1972 Miami Dolphins edged the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl 7.
The Rams won the toss and immediately deferred, so they can get the ball at the beginning of the 2nd half. This looked to be a good decision as they got an interception on Patriots QB Tom Brady's 1st pass attempt of the game after marching down the field into Rams territory after a good return and a series of runs. From that point on both offences would see very little 3rd down conversions leading to one punt after another. The veteran New England kicker would hit a 42-yard field goal early in the 2nd quarter after missing a 46-yarder on their 2nd possession of the game and that would be the only scoring in the 1st half, with the Patriots leading 3-0.
The punt-fest continued in the 2nd half until the Rams finally got on the board in the 3rd quarter on the heels of a long, 53-yard field goal by Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein tying the game up at 3 with just over a quarter to go. Finally, the Patriots go on a 69-yard drive to score a touchdown on a 2-yard run by rookie running back Sony "Trinitron" Michel to take a 10-3 lead with just 7 minutes left. Rams QB Jared Goff was under pressure all day, and on the next possession threw a deep pass for an interception by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the end looked near. With New England now having moved the ball down to the Los Angeles 24 yard line, on 3rd and short they had no gain on a run up the middle by Michel and on a 4th and 1, Patriots legendary head coach Bill Belichick settled for the field goal as Gostkowski hit a 41-yarder to make this a 2 possession game and the score 13-3. The Rams would get to the Patriots 30 with 8 seconds left and tried to hit a field goal, try and recover an onside kick then go for a Hail Mary pass as their only hope left but to add insult to injury Zuerlein missed the 48-yard attempt to seal the deal.
New England wide receiver Julian Edelman could not be covered, hauling in 10 receptions for 141 yards and unanimously won Super Bowl LIII MVP as the Patriots won their 6th Super Bowl championship in franchise history, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most all-time. They have now played in the big game 4 of the last 5 years, winning 3 of them and playing in 9 or exactly half of the Super Bowl games in the last 18 years, going 6-3 on what is a remarkable and unprecedented run by this franchise, and doing it all of it in the salary cap era. While Edelman stole the show, Brady did his part and Michel ran for almost 100 yards on less than 20 carries, plus veteran tight end Rob Gronkowski looked like his old self with a couple of big-time catches and after an injury-plagued season. He saved his best for last on a stage that current Patriots players are all too familiar with.
As for the Rams, they could not get their running game going as both backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson combined for under 60 yards. Jared Goff could not get going or even get close to the red zone, despite both his go-to wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods combining for almost 200 yards. Drives kept getting stopped short and an offence that scored over 500 points in the regular season just could not get into a rhythm and only mustering 3 points in a game that was their's for the taking. Their defence gave them a chance to win but the more playoff-seasoned Patriots smothered them all day with a game plan that was perfectly executed.
So with that concludes the 2018 NFL season. We saw the highest scoring year in history, with several storylines around the league good and bad. Congratulations to the New England Patriots on winning Super Bowl LIII, and despite Tom Brady turning 42 years old don't count them out on getting back here again. The 54th Super Bowl will take place next year at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida home of the Dolphins for the 6th time ever and 1st in 10 years. We now have to wait 7 months until the next NFL game, but the 2019 Schedule is to be released in late April around the time of the NFL Draft.